Mississippi in tornado recovery, MEMA officials say $5.7 million approved in federal grans and loans

PINE BELT, Miss. - Its been a little over a month since President Donald Trump declared a major federal disaster after the Jan. 21 severe storms and tornadoes in Mississippi.

MEMA, FEMA and other state, federal and voluntary agency partners continue supporting survivors as they rebuild their lives and communities.

MEMA said as of Feb. 20, more than $5.7 million already has been approved in federal grants and loans to those affected by the storms. Several state agencies, along with numerous nonprofit and faith-based organizations have been assisting with recovery since the storms began too said MEMA Public Information Officer Ray Coleman.

"It is going to be the community that helps rebuild the Pine Belt area, Hattiesburg, Petal, you name it, it is going to be those volunteer groups that were here with us, for us after us, they are going to help folks get back on their feet" Coleman said. Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Team Rubicon, Knights of Columbus, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Hope Reigns/8 Days of Hope, Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Latter Day Saints, Samaritan’s Purse and AmeriCorps are among the organizations providing assistance to survivors who have unmet needs as a result of the disaster. Voluntary organizations provide a wide range of assistance to disaster survivors, including debris cleanup, shelter, food, clothing, counseling, home repairs and reconstruction. As of Feb. 20, here is a breakdown of the total federal assistance provided to Mississippi survivors: SBA has approved nearly $3.1 million in low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters and business owners to repair, rebuild and replace damaged property and contents.

FEMA has approved more than $1.9 million in grants for a safe place to stay for homeowners and renters whose residences were uninhabitable and to make essential repairs for homes to be safe, sanitary and functional.

Nearly $749,000 in grants to homeowners and renters to repair and replace certain household items and for disaster-related medical and dental expenses.

More than 2,100 persons in Forrest, Lamar, Lauderdale and Perry counties have contacted FEMA for information or assistance.

1,358 FEMA housing inspections (nearly 99 percent) have been completed.

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance teams in the field have spoken with nearly 2,800 survivors and have visited nearly 4,700 homes.

1,892 survivors have visited MEMA/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.

1,326 survivors have consulted with mitigation specialists at recovery centers and home improvement stores for tips and techniques on building hazard-resistant homes. Here’s how to register for help or to get more information: Call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Register online at DisasterAssistance.gov. To support survivors, disaster recovery centers are open in Forrest County at the C.E. Roy Community Center, 300 E. 5th Street, Hattiesburg and at Petal Civic Center, 712A South Main Street, Petal. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Hattiesburg DRC will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The Petal DRC will be closed Saturday. FEMA recommends survivors register prior to going to a center, but representatives are available to assist with registration. For more information on Mississippi’s tornado recovery, go to fema.gov/disaster/4295 or visit the MEMA site at msema.org. Follow MEMA on Facebook facebook.com/msemaorg and on Twitter @msema.org.

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